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How Much Alone Time is Normal in a Relationship

Anchor Light Therapy Collective

Sep 11, 2023

Is spending time alone OK in a relationship?

To cut to the chase, wanting some time to focus on yourself, explore your interests, or simply recharge is completely normal. The idea of alone time sparks lots of questions. How much should or shouldn’t I take? How do I ask for it? Will my partner feel neglected? Below are some signs you may need alone time, tips for approaching the subject with your partner, and how to implement it in your relationship.

Being together all the time isn’t healthy

Not everyone has the same level of need regarding alone time. It’s possible that your partner needs more or less than you do. Some partners might not understand why their significant others need alone time, yet it doesn’t discount the fact that it is important. However, it’s essential to come from a place of compassion when asking for time alone. It’s also important to avoid speaking to your partner in a way that might make them feel as though they are wrong for needing more or less alone time than you do. Remember, some people recharge by being around others, while others recharge by taking time away.

It’s compelling to think that our need and desire for alone time is selfish, but most couples can benefit from spending time on their own interests and hobbies. Just because the inherent need isn’t there doesn’t mean it can’t be beneficial. That’s not to say you should tell your partner you are doing them a favor by giving them alone time, but that you shouldn’t feel bad for expressing your need.

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How much alone time is normal?

Figuring out how much alone time is normal may differ for each couple. While most couples would prefer not to be attached at the hip, they may also like to avoid being glorified roommates. Finding a balance in your attachment styles will help you both feel more fulfilled in your relationship and as individuals.

According to relationship experts, one option is to divide your time with and without your partner 70/30. This means that, ideally, you should spend 70% of your time together and 30% of your time apart. During the time apart, you do you. You can continue your hobbies and enjoy your interests with other people. Remember, 70/30 is a guideline and is a great place to start. You may find that you need more or less space in your relationship. Talk to your partner about what feels best for both of you.

Too much alone time can also be challenging

Figuring out a healthy balance of couple time and alone time can be challenging. Spending too much time together can feel suffocating. However, too much time apart can create distance, leading to one or more partners feeling neglected.

Planning and communicating are crucial aspects of healthy relationships. Weekly check-ins can provide a healthy space for you and your partner to communicate your needs for time together and apart. Check-ins are a great way to stay on task, set boundaries, and work on compromise to ensure a balance of everyone’s space and connection needs are being met.

Common signs you need more alone time in a relationship

1. You’re fighting about trivial things

Small things can set us off. Perhaps it’s bickering over an errant towel on the floor or dirty dishes in the sink. While conflict is perfectly normal, these small things ultimately don’t matter. If you and your partner continually sweat the small stuff in your relationship, you might need a little space to clear your head.

2. You’re bored

Relationships can become monotonous and routine. In simpler terms, we can become bored. You find you and your partner are talking about the same things and doing the same things. You may even feel like you’re running out of new ways to infuse life into the relationship. There’s likely nothing wrong with you, your partner, or your relationship. However, solo time (for you and your partner) can offer a fresh perspective on your relationship. As the old saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder!

3. You don’t do the things that used to make you happy

What do you do for self-care? Do you enjoy taking an exercise class? Reading a book? Other hobbies? Maybe enjoying your morning coffee at a new spot? When was the last time you carved out time to do that? You may find that you need space to engage in the activities that “fill your cup.” Engaging in the things you love helps to recharge your energy, helping you to feel more fulfilled and amplifying your ability to be there for others (especially your person!) Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so set aside some solo time each week to refill it.

4. You miss your friends

Finding a supportive and complementary partner, and it’s important to remember that your life partner can’t be everything to you all of the time. Support from friends and family is just as important as support from your significant other. Friends can offer a new perspective and give your relationship extra space so that it doesn’t become a dumping ground for stress. Friends can also help you navigate issues within your relationship. Additionally, friends know you as an individual, especially those who knew you before your relationship. Spending time with friends can help you feel more like yourself and leave you with a clear head.

5. You don’t feel like yourself

This may be one of the most crucial signs that you need a bit of solo time. If you’re feeling out of touch with your individual identity and overwhelmed in your partnership, you likely need some time to rediscover yourself. Support and connection are vital elements to a relationship, but knowing who you are outside your relationship is crucial to staying fulfilled. If you’re not feeling like yourself anymore, think about how you can create space to discover what makes you you and show up as your whole self in the relationship.

How to tell your partner you need more time for yourself

Before asking for alone time from your partner, ask yourself what alone time looks like for you. Do you need to leave your house for an extended period? Are you content sitting in the same room with your partner without speaking? Maybe alone time is popping in your earbuds and having permission to check out for a while? Before you have a conversation about your need for space, take a moment to have a conversation with yourself so that you can communicate your needs with intention.

Once you know your needs, communicate them to your partner. Be thoughtful and specific in your ask, and ask them about their own needs. Perhaps they have also been needing some space as well. Your partner may ask how much time you need and may have questions, so keep an open mind and an open heart, and don’t hesitate to reiterate that alone time is an act of self-care.

Focus on spending quality time together

What is your definition and understanding of quality time? Do you think it matches what your partner would say? One partner may say watching TV together is quality time, while the other partner may say a full-blown date night is their idea of quality time. Defining what quality time means to you and your partner is essential to keep the connection strong in a healthy relationship.

Prioritizing quality time is essential and can sometimes seem complicated, especially with busy schedules. One great way to prioritize quality time in a relationship is to schedule things you want to do with your partner. Maybe it’s buying tickets to a comedy show or making a reservation at your favorite restaurant. Putting something on a calendar makes it more likely to happen, so try scheduling a few activities at the beginning of each month for you and your partner to look forward to.

Another key way to increase quality time in your relationship is to decrease distraction. Phones are one of the biggest culprits in reduced quality time between couples. If you spend time together watching a show or discussing your day, try setting a “no phone” rule to make your time together feel more special.

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